A team of Japanese and Italian researchers, including from Tohoku University, have evidenced mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe dating to 45,000-40,000 years — more than 20,000 years than previously thought. This study, entitled “The earliest evidence for mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe” published in Nature Ecology & Evolution, indicated that the spearthrower and bow-and-arrow technologies allowed modern humans to hunt more successfully than Neanderthals — giving them a competitive advantage. This discovery offered important insight to understand the reasons for the replacement of Neanderthals by modern humans. Paper.paywall – Katsuhiro Sano, Simona Arrighi, Chiaramaria Stani, Daniele Aureli, Francesco Boschin, Ivana Fiore, Vincenzo Spagnolo, Stefano Ricci, Jacopo Crezzini, Paolo Boscato, Monica Gala, Antonio Tagliacozzo, Giovanni Birarda, Lisa Vaccari, Annamaria Ronchitelli, Adriana Moroni, Stefano Benazzi. The earliest evidence for mechanically delivered projectile weapons in Europe. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2019; 3 (10): 1409 DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0990-3 More.
The thesis that modern humans had a competitive advantage in projectiles might be a bit hasty. One is reminded of the claim that modern humans could do art and Neanderthals couldn’t, and then we found Neanderthal art. Later, we might find Neanderthal projectiles from the same period. Then we could at least compare.
See also: The Neanderthals might have died out from ear infections
Neanderthal Man: The long-lost relative turns up again, this time with documents